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First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

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First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

This would be my first time travelling to Yosemite, and would be in Mid-December. My question is a seemingly basic one - is it too cold to do or see anything beautiful at this point in the year of my wife and I are not skiers or winter hikers?

Anyone have an idea of temperature and if there is snow in Mid-December in Yosemite?

Thanks in advance!

Washington State
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1. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

Yosemite Valley is at 4,000' elevation, so it's definitely in the mountains. It may or may not have snow.

Read last year's Yosemite Guide newspaper www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm for your time period to see what might be going on in the Park during your visit. Here is the Yosemite in Winter page: www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/winter.htm

Ideas

->Two hour Valley Floor tour in enclosed bus

->Free shuttle in the Valley to various destinations

->Walk (not hike) up to Bridalveil Falls

->Walk around Happy Isles

->Ice skate (outdoor rink, lots of beginners!)

->Enjoy a drink, a bowl of chili, or hot chocolate in the Ahwahnee

Mariposa, California
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2. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

There can be snow in Yosemite Valley but it's highly variable. In the higher elevations (above 4,000 feet) yes there will be snow, but in Yosemite Valley it can simply be chilly with clear ground, or a few feet of snow that might last for a couple of days. The average high temp for Yosemite Valley is 48 degrees F and the average low is 26 degrees F. So yes, it will be chilly. But snow cannot be guaranteed. There will probably be thin layers of ice here and there, particularly around Curry Village.

Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall will both have thin streams of water in them. El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, and the Cathedral Rocks will still be gorgeous. There's plenty to do for at least a day if not two, assuming you enjoy some casual time just hanging out.

The Ahwhanee Hotel may be decorated for the holidays at that point, and spending some time in the Great Lounge enjoying the huge fire place is a great way to spend an hour (or more).

There is also a closed bus tour of the Valley, so you can be warm, and see some sights with a tour guide. It's the Valley Floor Tour and it only runs once or twice a day in the winter time.

yosemitepark.com/Activities_GuidedBusTours_V…

There's also a morning ranger stroll if you'd like to take in a small are of nice scenery, go on an easy walk, and learn some more about the park.

Be forewarned that Glacier Point and Tuolumne Meadows will be inaccessible. Also the Giant Sequoias will only be viewable by doing a minimum of a 2 mile roundtrip hike, potentially through packed down (or not so packed down snow). Your focal point at this time will be Yosemite Valley.

Ice skating will also be running in Curry Village if that's something that interests you. You get views of Half Dome as you loop around the rink.

There are also plenty of short strolls (as in 30 minutes of flat walking) that will give you good scenery.

If you haven't already seen this, see here:

yosemitepark.com/Activities_GuidedBusTours_V…

Also, see last year's park newspaper for an idea of what activities are available to you:

nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/yg09-1.pdf

Have a great visit whenever you decide to see the Park.

One more warning. Winter is an awesome time to be in Yosemite because there are so few people. BUT, weather can be unpredictable. Storms can roll in that will cover the cliffs entirely. These storms can be a real downer for first time visitors, or if they're rolling in and out can provide for spectacular views of partially cloud cover cliffs for the patient visitor. Winter is beautiful, but it's also all about flexibility.

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3. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

Thanks so much! To those of you who replied, do you think 5 days/4 nights is too much or too little for the Yosemite valley?

Washington State
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4. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

I love Yosemite, but if I didn't hike or ski, I don't think I'd stay that long. Read thru the Yosemite Guide to see what appeals to you. Just two nights in the quiet beauty of Yosemite could be enough for the lightly active folks.

Do you like winter weather? Do you enjoy the out-of-doors? Is nature fascinating or just so-so?

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5. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

We like to hike, but we are not "hikers" meaning we like to go on a hike of an hour or less, but any more may be out of our (read MY) activity range.

We are from Southern California, so while the winter weather will be new to us, I don't think it would bother us much! :)

My trip is actually 11 days total, we are flying into San Francisco and staying in Sonoma County for the first half of the trip, then driving to Yosemite, then driving back to SFO to fly out.

Based on recommendations, I may cut the Yosemite trip to 3 days 2 nights, and just extend the Sonoma portion or stay a night or two in San Fran after Yosemite.

Any thoughts?

Corona del Mar, CA
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6. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

Are you coming just to Yosemite? If yes, then 4 nights/5 days is fine, you will have some down time, but relaxing is nice.

If you are going to other places in No Cal, than 3 nights is probably enough time see everything you want and spend more time in your other destinations.

Mariposa, California
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7. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

I think 3 days two nights would be sufficient given your described activity level.

On another note, if you do want to learn to ski, Badger Pass is a very friendly place to do it, with small runs and few people...perfect learning experience.

Have fun!

Fremont, California
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8. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

Since you are going mid December, check to see if tickets are available to the Bracebridge Dinner

http://www.bracebridgedinners.com/main.html

if they are and ok with the $$$$, this is an outstanding event to go to.

Yosemite Valley Floor is at 3000 feet - unless there is a major snow storm, you will be able to see a lot of Yosemite.

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9. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

If you like to ice skate, there is an outdoor rink at Curry Village. We spent New Year's Day in Yosemite and had a wonderful time. If you enjoy photography, this is an awesome place to take photos. I hope you enjoy your visit to the park! :)

Uden, The...
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10. Re: First Time Travel to Yosemite in December

As you are visiting by car maybe also read this for visiting Yosemite NP in winter

www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/chains.htm